Monday after Advent 3

Psalmody: Psalm 27:1, 4–5, 11–14

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom | shall I fear?*
         The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
         of whom shall I | be afraid?

4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek | after:*
         that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon
         the beauty of the LORD and to inquire
         in his | temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of | trouble;*
         he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high up- | on a rock.

11 Teach me your way, | O LORD,*
         and lead me on a level path
         because of my | enemies.

12 Give me not up to the will of my
adver- | saries;*
         for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out | violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the
goodness | of the LORD*
         in the land of the | living!

14 Wait | for the LORD;*
         be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait | for the LORD!

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 30:15–26

[A Rebellious People]
15For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
         in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

But you were unwilling, 16and you said,

“No! We will flee upon horses”;
         therefore you shall flee away;

and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
         therefore your pursuers shall be swift.

17A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
         at the threat of five you shall flee,

till you are left
         like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
         like a signal on a hill.

The LORD Will Be Gracious
18Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you,
         and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

For the LORD is a God of justice;
         blessed are all those who wait for him.

19For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”

23And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

New Testament Reading: Revelation 2:1–29

To the Church in Ephesus
1“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

2“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

To the Church in Smyrna
8“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

9“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

To the Church in Pergamum
12“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

13“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

To the Church in Thyatira
18“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Writing

The doctrine is not of compulsion; the Word of life is of free will. Whoever desires to hear the doctrine, let him cleanse the field of his will so that the good seed may not fall among the thorns of vain questions. If you would heed the Word of life, cut yourself off from evil things. The hearing of the Word profits nothing to the man who is busy with sins. If you want to be good, do not love dissolute customs. First, trust in God, and then listen to His Law.

You cannot hear His words while you do not know yourself. And if you keep His judgments while your understanding is apart from Him, who will give you your reward? Who will guard your payment for you? You were baptized in His name, so confess His name! In the Persons and in the naming, Father and Son and Holy Spirit—three names and Persons—these three shall be a wall against divisions and disputes for you. Do not doubt the truth, lest through the truth you may perish. You were baptized from the water; you have put on Christ in His naming; the seat of the Lord is on your person and His stamp on your forehead. See that you do not become another’s possession, for you have no other Lord. He is one who formed us in His mercy; He is one who redeemed us on His cross. It is He who guides our life, who has power over our feebleness, who brings to pass our resurrection. He rewards us according to our works. Blessed is he who confesses Him, and hears and keeps His commandments! You, O man, are a son of God, who is high over all. See that you do not vex the good and gracious Father by your works.

   —Ephraim Syrus

Prayer of the Day

Lord Jesus, You sent Your angels to the churches of Asia Minor to announce to them either their fidelity to the Gospel or their departure from the true faith. By the preaching of today’s pastors, continue to bring to our churches the Good News of Your liberating death and resurrection by calling us to repentance and faith; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.